Sporty Feet

Sporty Feet

Keeping yourself fit and active is crucial to maintaining good health. In order to ensure that you are motivated, it is necessary to engage in an activity that you really enjoy. Enjoyment, however, is one part of it though… avoiding injury is another important factor. Despite the obvious differences that exist between different activities, there are practical bits of advice that should be adhered to by all sporty or active
people. This general advice is listed below. Following this, a description of the most common injuries and causes of lower limb pain is given.
General Advice
· Warm up. This is particularly relevant if your sport involves running or other high-impact
cardio (e.g. boot camp, gymnastics, disco dancing, rugby etc.). If you go
straight into the most intense part of the workout without easing into it, you
put stress on your muscles, making you more susceptible to injury. Warming up
allows more oxygenated blood to get into the muscles, preparing for what’s to
come.
· Don’t over train. Your body needs to rest! Sleep allows your body to recover, but you also
need to avoid doing too much exercise that you’re not used to doing. Even
professional athletes like Andy Murray have to have some down time!
· Wear the correct shoes for the correct activity. Much has already been said about
footwear in a previous feature. Sports shoe technology is so advanced – wearing
the correct shoes really can make a difference between sustaining or avoiding
an injury. Wearing a pair of fashion trainers to football just won’t do.
· Make sure you stretch after your work out. It frustrates me that very few
children are not taught to do this at school. Establishing good exercise habits
that include a warm up and post workout stretch is so important. The stretching
part of the routine allows you to avoid the dreaded DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle
Soreness). Think of walking like John Wayne for a couple of days!
· Understand that there are times when you will be more susceptible to
injury. Such times include:
o Tiredness
o Doing activities you’re not used to
o Training when you are unwell or just don’t feel physically on form
At these times you may still be able to exercise, but do so at a lower intensity to that which your body is used to.

· Nourish your body with a healthy nutritious diet that allows muscles to repair easier. The saying You are what you eat is so true. Not only is food delicious and create an opportunity to socialise, it serves to provide your body with all of the nutrients it needs to maintain health. Different nutrients (or chemicals) help to sustain different cells in your body. If you eat mostly junk food, your diet will be very low on nutrients, it will struggle to thrive and take longer for sports injuries to heal. If you eat healthy food, your body functions much better. Professional athletes understand that diet affects their performance – this is why many of them follow a strict diet plan. As well as eating a healthy diet, make sure you
drink plenty of water – at least a couple of litres if you do high intensity exercise or are outside.
Common Foot Problems
Below is listed some common foot problems. The purpose of listing these is to raise awareness. Don’t rely on this list or Google, however, to diagnose. If your symptoms don’t go away or if they get worse, go and see an MSK podiatrist or other health professional that you feel may help.

· Achilles Tendonitis / Tendanopathy. Tendons connect muscles to bones. The achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. It is named after the Greek god Achilles. It’s a common site of injury amongst sports people. If the part of the tendon that inserts into the heel is damaged, the condition is referred to as achilles tendonitis. If the injury occurs further up the achilles tendon, closer to the calf muscle, the condition is referred to as achilles tendanopathy. The treatment for this condition varies, depending on the location of the injury (tendonitis or tendanopathy), duration, severity and lifestyle. Most treatments include orthotics (medical insoles), wearing specific styles of shoes, physiotherapy and anti-inflammatory medication. In a few instances, surgery is required.
· Plantar Fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a soft tissue band that runs from the heel up to the arch of the foot. If it is subjected to repeated trauma, it becomes inflamed and painful – plantar fasciitis. Most people with plantar fasciitis experience pain in the morning when they get out of bed. Once they start walking, it eases off. Factors contributing to the onset of plantar fasciitis includes abnormal foot mechanics (where your feet turn too much in the wrong direction or not enough whilst you walk); overweight/obesity; doing activities or exercise that you’re not used to; wearing shoes that don’t have enough support or shock absorption; doing too much of a particular activity. Sometimes mild plantar fasciitis can go away by itself, but often, if the cause is not addressed, it gets increasingly worse to the point that one is limping and in pain even if gentle pressure is applied to the sore part of the foot. The most effective treatment includes the use of orthotics. Orthotics are effective since they take the pressure off of the plantar fascia itself and also deal with any abnormal foot mechanics which will be causing the pain in the first place.
· Metatarsalgia / Morton’s Neuroma. Metatarsalgia is a very broad term which is used to describe pain in the ball of the foot. It does not suggest a specific diagnosis and can be used to describe a number of different conditions. A fairly common cause of metatarsalgia is morton’s neuroma. A morton’s neuroma is a nerve at the ball of the foot which has become thickened. People with a morton’s neuroma tend to experience a sharp pain or numbness that can sometimes radiate to the top of the foot or the little toes. Factors contributing to the onset include obesity, wearing high heeled shoes, regular participation in high impact activities etc. Conservative treatments including orthotic therapy should be considered first.
Surgery should only be carried out as a last option.
· Bunions / Pain at the big toe. Bunions themselves are normally not a cause of joint pain. If pain does occur, it tends to be due to shoes irritating the prominent joint. Often pain at the big toe is due to a mechanical problem. Many people do not (or cannot) push through the big to adequately at the end of their walking cycle. This can contribute to pain whilst active and even in bed. Other causes of pain may include arthritis or even gout which is a build up of uric acid at the joint. Some people also experience inflammation of the little bones just below the big toe. This can also cause pain whilst walking. If you have any pain at the big toe joint, go and see an MSK podiatrist or your doctor. There can be so many different causes and the treatments vary depending on what’s going on.
· Other sporty foot problems. In-grown toe nails, thickened nails, callouses, corns, athletes foot etc. can all create pain, discomfort and affect performance. Don’t let problems get out of hand. Go and see and HCPC registered podiatrist who will be able to provide the right treatment.
Look after your lower limbs - don’t ignore injuries or other problems. Doing so will allow you to focus on enjoying whatever sport or activity it is that you do

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